December 23, 2012

Filthy Review - 'Total Recall'

Total Recall (2012)

Review by Jude Felton

Ah, another day, another remake, and more often than not another reason, as if any were needed, for the masses to cry heresy. Without reference to this film, just yet, the originals aren’t always the best; if they were we’d all be driving Model T Ford’s right about now. In all seriousness though, stop putting the money in the studios coffers if you don’t want to see more remakes. Even the biggest box office flop takes in more money than the most successful independent film. Harsh but true. As for original movies; folk just aren’t plonking their collective asses down at the theaters to see them. It would appear that the masses are content with remakes, sequels and adaptations. At the time of writing this review at least 6 movies in the current top 10 are either adaptations or part of a franchise (or sequel), with one re-release in 3D. Someone is paying to see these films.

Anyhoo, the high horse has now been dismounted from, and we can move on to the case in hand; Len Wiseman’s take on Total Recall, which is a remake of the 1990 movie of the same name which was directed by Paul Verhoeven (itself an adaptation of a Philip K. Dick short story). That was a damned fun movie, with Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone and Michael Ironside all heating up the Martian landscape. It was renowned for its excellent practical effects, among other things. It was a good to honest fun flick.

Total Recall 2012 is a different kettle of fish entirely; it’s still a fun, if slightly too long, slice of cinematic mayhem, but the practical effects are long gone and this is more of a non-stop action-fest with little room for subtlety. In other words, on the surface, it is perfect for the modern movie-going public. I say on the surface as the plot is still probably a little too deep for those that aren’t willing to invest a little concentration into it.

The film follows Doug Quaid, a simple factory worker that is plagued by strange dreams, who is not really content on where his life is going. Sure, he is happily married, but does he want to be stuck in the monotony of his current job for the rest of his life?

This all changes when he pays a visit to ReKall, a company that can implant new memories for you to enjoy; Quaid’s choice being that of a spy. Then, the shit hits the fan, and we are plunged into a plot in which Quaid is forced to question who he really is. What are his connections to the ruthless Cohaagen? To the terrorist attacks that plague the city? And just who is that strange girl in his dreams?

It might sound complicated, but I assure you that it really isn’t. Yes, you do need to pay attention to what is going on, but for the most part Wiseman is just content to throw heaps of action sequences at you, and some very cool ones at that. Visually, Total Recall is quite stunning to look at, the futuristic United Federation of Britain and The Colony both being brought to stunning life. There was a little too much lense flare going on, but the effects overall were pretty damned good.

Total Recall isn’t a film that is going to offer up much in the way of subtlety or depth, and some characters flit in and out of the film without a second thought. I was looking forward to seeing Bill Nighy, but I blinked and almost missed him. Colin Farrell does a decent job as Quaid, and is on screen almost throughout, and Kate Beckingsale looks good kicking ass again. Jessica Biel and Bryan Cranston were slightly underused, but still put in good performances for what the script offered them. Overall, the cast can only work with what they are given, and here they just roll with the blows, and gunfire, and explosions.

Hell, Total Recall was big dumb fun, and I am sure many people will hate it, but I enjoyed most of it. It looked and sounded great on Blu-ray, and Sony have given us a really sweet release with the 3 disc Extended Director’s Cut; which incidentally runs 20 minutes longer than the Theatrical Cut. There’s also a ton of extras included here, which make it good value for money in my eyes.

Total Recall isn’t going to change the face of film, but it was enjoyable eye (and ear) candy that I was not in the least bit angry with. 

Total Recall is available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital now from Sony.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting your review, Lord of Filth. I watched it on Friday night. I ordered it through right before leaving my office at DISH. It was downloaded to my Hopper DVR before I even got home, and I was able to watch it right away. I think that I may have liked this movie more if it had gone with a different title, maybe that of Dick’s original work. Sadly, having the name Total Recall meant that I would spend the whole movie comparing it to the film that I have loved since I was a child. This Total Recall was a solid action film, but in no way does it stand up to Arnold’s film.

Maynard Morrissey said...

Agree, it wasn't as bad as I expected. Verhoeven's adaptation is still unbeatable, but for whatever reason, I thought this reboot was quite ok.